Wolf Blitzer, senator spar over shutdown

CNN's Wolf Blitzer talks with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) about a looming government shutdown.

Posted: Jan 20, 2018 12:31 AM
Updated: Jan 20, 2018 12:31 AM

The House of Representatives wrapped its final votes Friday before a weeklong recess, just hours before the federal government is expected to shutdown, but it was unclear if lawmakers would leave Washington, DC, as previously scheduled.

While the House passed a continuing resolution Thursday night to keep the government funded through mid-February, that plan does not appear to have the 60 votes it needs to pass through the Senate ahead of a Friday midnight deadline.

One House Republican said he'd been instructed to stay in Washington just before noon on Friday.

"We have been told to stay in town," Republican Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina told reporters.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise released a statement saying the House has "completed its scheduled legislative work for the week" but advised members to "to remain flexible, as additional procedural votes are possible."

This message differed from the instructions members had earlier Friday, a sign that the looming shutdown was pushing lawmakers to stay close to Capitol Hill.

"Nothing has changed scheduling-wise in the House," a GOP leadership aide told CNN earlier Friday. "It currently stands that after the vote members are allowed to leave."

Multiple Republican sources told CNN there were multiple overseas trips planned for next week that are postponed due to the shutdown threat -- some were scheduled to depart Friday. House Speaker Paul Ryan said earlier this week that he planned to go to Iraq.

The notice to stay comes after some members of Congress were publicly starting to blame each other for the government running out funding. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sharply criticized her Republican counterparts in a statement, claiming GOP House members were skipping town to attend the World Economic Forum next week in Davos, Switzerland, though as of Friday it wasn't clear if any members still intended to go to the event.

"Every year the Republicans plan the January schedule so that they can go to Davos," Pelosi said. "They want to spend next week hobnobbing with their elitist friends instead of honoring their responsibilities to the American people."

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's spokesman said Friday the California Republican was not planning to go if the government shuts down as it appeared poised to do.

"No, I am staying right here," McCarthy told CNN when asked about his trip Friday.

The White House announced last week that President Donald Trump planned to attend the forum, but a senior White House official told CNN Friday morning that they discussed at a morning staff meeting that the President will stay in Washington until a bill is passed.

"He can't go until it's done," the official said.

A government official told CNN that the White House alerted them within the hour that, for now, Trump's weekend trip to Mar-a-lago in South Florida is canceled -- a reflection of the rising assumption of the shutdown.

On the Senate side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell drew up plans Thursday to keep the Senate in session through the weekend if Senate Democrats block a short-term spending bill before the Friday deadline expires, according to two GOP aides.

Vice President Mike Pence is still expected to go on his trip to Egypt, Jordan and Israel, his press secretary said Friday.

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